When the WDW theme parks re-opened last summer during the pandemic, Disney instituted the Disney World Park Pass Reservation system. Walt Disney World Resort’s four theme parks were all limiting guest capacity. Lately, they’ve raised that capacity to roughly 35%. How does Disney manage that capacity? What should you expect when you try to visit the theme parks?
Guests must have both a park reservation and valid ticket for the same park on the same date. While technically you need to purchase your tickets first, it is recommended that you reference the Disney Park Theme Park Availability Calendar before to ensure you can (quickly) book a Park Pass as soon as you buy your ticket.
This is a clear difference in policy from many other theme parks that open with no reservations required, but will cease admissions for the day the minute they hit capacity.
Which Ticket or Pass You Have Impacts Your Availability
There are a wide variety of ticket types that are available to gain entry into one of four WDW theme parks. For the Disney Park Pass reservation system, park guests fall into one of three different categories:
Disney Resort Guests
A Disney Park guest with any valid ticket AND a WDW resort confirmation number.
The largest allotment of the 35% park capacity is saved for resort guests. This is expected to fluctuate as more WDW resort hotels reopen.
Theme Park Tickets Guest
A Disney Park guest with any valid ticket.
This guest type has second highest preference for the allotment of the 35% capacity. However, they are limited in the fact that they may lose the ability to change park days the closer they get to their visit.
A Disney Park guest that has a valid WDW Annual Pass(limited to those who only had the full price annual pass prior to the March 2020 shutdown and either still have time left after the 5 month extension or renewed it without a lapse.)
This pass often seems to have the most limited availability, but also fluctuates far more than the other two types. Some would say to the point of being volatile – where availability will suddenly open up on even the busiest of days.
Disney Park Pass Reservation Availability Calendar
Which category you fall into will determine the type of Disney Park Pass availability you may encounter. Even with increased capacity, it is not uncommon to see holiday or long weekends where some (and occasionally) all parks have no availability.
Disney Resort Guests
If you are a WDW resort guest, you are the most valuable guest in the eyes of the Disney Corporation. This means there are some unofficial perks. One being that many guests also report that once they are checked in and staying on property, they have full ability to swap park passes for any park on any day of their stay. This results in the greatest amount of flexibility. The 2020 holiday season tested that theory, but in 2021 with the return of the park hopper ticket, should continue to be true.
Theme Park Tickets Guests
For the most part, the only park you may have difficulty getting a reservation for is Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This is due to the fact that it has Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, the newest ride in all of WDW, as well as their most advanced attraction, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
Current WDW Annual Passholders will be limited to a total of three Disney Park Pass reservations at one time. The only exception being if you are also categorized as a Disney Resort Guest (have a valid hotel confirmation). This means that you can book a Park Pass for each day of your stay, including both check-in and check-out days.
As mentioned above, availability fluctuates wildly. There are often new allotments reallocated based on current WDW resort hotel bookings and what the company is seeing in the way of ticket sales.
Booking Your Disney Park Pass Reservation
First, you need to have access to your Disney account (which you will need to purchase tickets). On the homepage for your “My Disney Experience” you will be prompted to make your Disney Park Pass reservation:
To book your Disney Park Pass reservation, you must:
- Create your party by selecting guests from your Family & Friends list, ensuring that all guests have valid tickets/passes linked to their accounts.
- Select a date, and then a park you’d like to visit. If the system says it is unavailable, reference the Availability Calendar.
- Once you successfully select an available date and park for your party, you will review and confirm.
PRO TIP: Save time and frustration by ensuring you are connected to your guests. Also, ensure that they have applicable tickets linked to their accounts before you start the Disney Park Pass reservation process.